My Thoughts on Super Columbine Massacre RPG – Johnny Blaze

6 03 2007

What’s interesting about this game, is that it explores highly volatile subject matter. It has outraged gamers, developers, columbine school members, and media.

I have yet to see an actual review of the game, perhaps because journalists don’t want to deal with the potential outrage and protests if the game recieves any positive feedback. I also haven’t yet played through the game, but from what I have played, I am impressed by the amount of thought that went into the dialogue. Perhaps the designers were motivated by the certain fame of making a game which would cause this kind of controversy, but it is clear that they were serious about creating a game which explores the motivations of the columbine massacre.

I am aware that the situation is still sensitive, and that it may be regarded as “too soon” to release this kind of project. However, I strongly believe this is protected free speech, and it should be allowed and encouraged to tackle these kind of subjects.

The creator of the game is an aspiring filmmaker by the name of Danny Ledonne, who upon release tried to remain anonymous, until his identity was revealed by a friend of one of the columbine victims. The game was entered into the slamdance guerilla games festival, and was a finalist until one of the judges decided it was not appropriate and pulled it from the festival. The pulling of the game has been the subject of a great deal of debate over censorship.

The outrage from victims became even more complicated when the Dawson College Shooting took place. The perpetrator of this shooting, Kimveer Gill, stated that one of her favorite games was Super Columbine Massacre. Ledonne, who is reported as having vomited, upon hearing the news that his game was the favorite of the killer, had the following to say about the controversy.

“If one is interested in making something for the public to view–be it a painting, a book, an album, a film, or a video game, should the POSSIBLE harm that may come out of this work be grounds for its suppression from society? This is, in a sense, pre-crime. If you believe in what you’re doing and you want to express yourself, the expression should be primary and any interpretations that come after must always remain of secondary importance to the creation of the work itself. On another level, the entire correlation between the Dawson College shooting and my game is unfounded. […] What else did Kimveer like? Black clothes? Goth music? Pizza? […] If anything, the Dawson College shooting is proof positive that games like SCMRPG SHOULD be made; until video games are no longer among the “usual suspects” for homicidal rampages, the public needs to more carefully consider why interactive electronic media is somehow the manufacturer of Manchurian Candidates.

What he says rings true to me, because it is clear that the media, and to a large extent, the general public, blamed these school shootings on external factors, that were in large part, coincidences. In the week after the columbine shootings, the average person believed Doom could train a kid to become a weapons expert, and inspired the kind of violence neccessary for a shooting rampage. They also might have believed Marilyn Manson was telling kids to fire bullets into anyone who dislikes them.

Art simply mirrors life. The movies, books, games, music etc. that these kids identify with reflects their feelings of not fitting in. The difference between those kids and the artwork in questions millions of other fans is that these kids chose to express their very real feelings of sorrow, of not being accepted, of being tirelessly bullied, in a completely inappropriate way.

Allowing these events to be explored is a step toward coming up with a serious solution, for dealing with the psychopathic tendencies of children who are pushed to the edge. Perhaps if parents and teachers, instead of condemning this kind of artistic expression, would sit down and play this game, they could more easily identify the signs that their child is crying out for help and is plotting ways to lash out and harm society.

It is easy to say these kids are “just crazy”, and perhaps they are, but there are many things that could be done to prevent future copycats, and instead of ‘zero tolerance’, which only provides a mirage of safety, there should be a serious effort to stop the bullying, and generally toxic atmosphere of schools around the country. In the meantime, I tentatively give my support to the creator of this game, and his future works, which are said to include the release of a documentary about columbine.


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2 responses

12 03 2007
Kezins

I did a short piece on this game a while back. I see where they are going with it and I do support their right to make the game, but I think perhaps they chose a subject a little too close to home for some people. I’m not exactly sure where I stand on the game, but I do think it could have been a mistake to make it.

12 03 2007
Lemster

I never played this game and i know nothing about it but i am pretty much agreeing with u that games movies music anything of that sort should not be held responsible by some crazy loser kids who have problems i mean movies games and music even if they do reflect on peoples lives and stuff are purley created for one thing ENTERTAINMENT

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